by Gary Stamper CPC, MSIP, DSPS
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So, Rene Descartes walks into a bar and orders a drink.
When he finishes his drink, the bartender asks him if he
would like another. Descartes replies, “No, I think not,”
and disappears in a puff of logic.
As I was pondering the recent astonishing turn-around of a group of Republicans who suddenly came out in favor of everyone getting vaccinated, I couldn't help but think of this old joke. I think these republicans all had the same instantaneous epiphany at the same time, suddenly and without warning, but it wasn't the realization that they had been wrong.
Altruism? A sudden unexpected tug of compassion or empathy? Guilty consciences? Wokeness?
In the words of Descartes, "I think not."
No, I think it was the realization that their unvaccinated constituents in Red States were dying at alarming rates from the new Delta Variant, and when they thought about how they would justify their position to their remaining constituents who had lost family and loved-ones to the new virus come election time, they realized they couldn't.
Adding to their gross miscalculation was the reality that their vaccinated blue neighbors' infection rates were at almost zero, and the anti-vaxxer deserters decided - in a amazing display of attempting to save their own asses - that they did not want die at that particular time on that particular political hill.
Was there an apology about their previous positions? Did they admit they were wrong or that they "changed" their minds? Not a chance. They came out and acted like that had always been their position.
This a desperate act of pure political cowardice delivered matter-of-factly, with little or no emotion, and yet I welcome it. I just have to call it out for what it is.
Don't get me wrong. Coming out in favor of getting the vaccine is better for almost everyone than not doing it and will ultimately save many lives (it's not so good for the hard-core right-wing cultists who haven't "changed" their minds), and those of us who actually care about our friends and neighbors should celebrate it as such.
You have to admit it's apparently already producing results. The Senate voted Wednesday to advance a bipartisan infrastructure plan, a critical step toward Democrats passing their sweeping economic agenda with17 Republicans and all 50 Democrats voting yes. While voting to advance the bill is not passing the bill, even advancing it is something that likely would not have happened without the support of the Republicans who changed their minds about the jab.
Is this good news? it depends on your perspective. From my perspective, it would certainly appear that way to Post-Progressives, although much more remains to be done. To those in charge of the middle-of-the-road corporate Dems, like Biden, most definitely, even though questions remain about their motives and end-game. For hard-core right-wing extremists, white nationalists, and Trump, not likely on the possibility of passing an infrastructure bill as it increases Biden's re-election chance should he decide to run again.
But for Republicans like the ones who did the turn-around on the vaccines, it will depend on whether their usual voters believe their bullshit or not.
Amidst all the hoopla (myself included) about GOP Senate members suddenly doing a 180º turnaround and urging their anti-vax constituents to get vaccinated (while a good thing) seems to indicate a softening of their hearts. A wise Facebook friend points out that "When the shit threatens to kill the majority of your support base, you try everything in your power to save them."
But why would anyone believe this "compassionate change of heart" is anything but a desperate attempt to keep a base? They've already proven by their past actions that they have no problem throwing their base under the wheels.
Equally abhorrent is what has become obvious around their sudden support of Biden's flagship campaign promise Infrastructure Plan. What is not being talked about in the mainstream media - or the corporate Dems - is that the sudden GOP support is a result of the administration's capitulation. In addition to cutting funding for the previously sweeping bill by 75%, federal spending on roads, bridges. and expanded broadband access will be paid for with unused Covid-19 aid funds - any chance we might need those? - and unspent jobless aid, among other sources.
Meanwhile, the GOP is quietly gloating as the modified bill benefits their constituents without cooperating on anything that threatens the party’s core constituencies.
What is it with Democratic non-existent negotiation and giving away the farm??
While Biden managed to at least win his bipartisan merit badge without betraying the Democratic base by bargaining away Social Security, the $550 billion infrastructure agreement is seriously deficient in many respects.
Still, the president's campaign promise was that his deal-making prowess would enable the passage of bipartisan immigration, gun control, and health-care reforms - not a "mere" surface transportation bill. If the impending $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill does not pass, which is highly likely, then the bipartisan deal’s failure to prioritize progressive green investment will be gone, perhaps relegated to what continues to look like a very short set of future history books.
The infrastructure bill has not yet passed the Senate, let alone the House as DINO Dems Manchin and Sinema have both said they won't support it, and house progressives have said they won't support cuts to the plan. McConnell and 16 of his Republican colleagues only voted to “open debate” on the bill Wednesday.
Gary Stamper CPC, MSIP, DSPP